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Leach Cross -The Best Of Both Worlds.

courtesy of Hank Kaplans Boxing archives . . .

Like the tax man that has you coming and going, crack lightweight of days gone by, prizefighter Leach Cross enjoyed the enviable position of being the best of two worlds.

As a fighting Dentist, Leach was paid for knocking them out, and putting them back in again. Louis Charles Wallach, born February 12, 1886, was the second of four brothers to emerge into the teeming ghetto known as New York's Lower East Side.

Upon his graduation from high school, Louis entered New York University to study Dentistry.

Taking up the friendly art of "beak bashing" to supplement his income, Louis boxed under the "non de plume" of Leach Cross to avoid detection by his family, particularly his father, whom Leach was sure would not approve of his engaging in so brutal and primitive a sport. As his need for funds was immediate, Leach had no time or patience to learn his trade in the amateurs. He turned professional right away, and absorbed his lessons the hard way.

Launching his career in 1906, Leach was unceremoniously knocked out in the first round of his pugilistic debut. Leach fared slightly better in his next fight -- getting knocked out in two! But determination and natural ability gradually began to form Leach into really capable fighter.

In October of 1907 Leach received his degree in Dentistry and began a limited practice in his neighborhood.

Comically enough, there were a number of occasions in which his opponents of the previous evening would visit him to repair the damage he had wrought upon their choppers. Dentistry soon began to take a back seat to his fighting career, as Leach's exciting performances , and now more frequent victories, had elevated Cross to one of New York's most popular and fistic attractions. By this time of course, his family did become aware of his activities, and reluctantly accepted the facts of life.

Managed by older brother Sam, Leach fought from 1906 through 1916, engaging in about 155 bouts, many not recorded, losing only ten.

Despite the fact that he was one of the leading lightweights of his time, he never did achieve his greatest ambition, to fight for a championship. Still, he fought many champions, both former and future, including Jack Britton, Battling Nelson, Ad Wolgast, Willie Ritchie, Freddie Welsh, and Johnny Dundee, with nary a title being at stake.

After being knocked out in six rounds by one Milburn Saylor in 1916, Leach decided to call it a day. He went into Dentistry full time, and after a five year hiatus, made a brief comeback in 1921, not for financial reasons, but to see if he could hang around with the new generation  fighters. His final tally, according to Box Rec was 35-10 -4, with 22 KO's.

Moving to California, Leach entered into a great period of prosperity. With a flouring dental practice as his mainstay, Leach built a luxurious apartment complex in Hollywood, naming it the "Cross Arms". It was the roaring twenties, and Leach found time to open up other business', such as a cafe' and restaurant in the same town. Unfortunately by the end of the decade, good investments turned bad, and with the 1929 stock market crash, Leach's assets dwindled, and soon was entirely lost.

Returning to New York, Leach resumed his practice and managed to prosper once more, although at nowhere near his former level.

Sad to say, Leach's final days were not good ones, and his failing health prevented him from working in his final years. Hospitalized for the last three years of his life, Leach died September 7, 1957 at the age of seventy one.




Jimmy Clabby and Leah Cross.



Pride of 1940's Youngstown Ohio.


This article was a long time coming. Over the years through my friends in the Youngstown area I have learned a lot about the rich boxing history in that region. I was familiar with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini but I knew little about his dad Lenny Mancini who passed on the “Boom Boom” moniker to his son. I knew about hard hitting Harry Arroyo and the murderous body punching of Jeff Lampkin. I was even able to witness live the tremendous boxing talent of Greg Richardson. Through my friends I became aware of very special fighters of yesteryear like Tommy Bell, Red D’Amato and Sonny Horne. So many more that I could mention. One fighter I heard quite a bit about was a smooth boxing contender who as they say, “put asses in the seats”. He fought in an era when a multitude of rugged contenders roamed the ratings. He met the best of them and had quite a career. His name was Tony Janiro.

Janiro turned professional in 1943 at the tender age of 16. He won his first 23 bouts until meeting defeat against tough Al Guido. Tony then went on a 16-fight win streak including a rematch victory over Guido. In 1945 he lost two out of three verdicts to popular Canadian Johnny Greco. Still Janiro was winning more the he lost as he climbed in the ratings. In 1947 he scored a big decision win over Tony Pellone. Janiro then notched one of his best wins when he halted the great Beau Jack in four.

A few months later Jake LaMotta proved too strong for Tony and won the decision. The year 1948 was a rough one as Tony lost to Laverne Roach and a return with Beau Jack. He also drew with Lou Valles. In 1949 he lost to Henry Hall and then he was defeated by one of the best middleweights in the world, Rocky Castellani. The resilient Janiro bounced back with a win over clever Charley Fusari. Tony then drew with the “Rock” himself, Rocky Graziano. Tony lost a return to Graziano and later lost to the marvelous Kid Gavilan.

Tony continued to meet top shelf opposition in 1951. He lost to Fritzie Pruden but defeated Fusari again. He then lost to the always-troublesome Laurent Dauthuille. Then came a controversial KO loss in the tenth round of his third meeting with Graziano. Tony was then stopped in a return match with Gavilan. Tony’s career ended in 1952 with a knockout loss to Charles Humez.
Tony Janiro won 80 of 97 fights. He met four world champions and three others who challenged for a crown. That’s not to mention the several top contenders he tangled with. Tony Janiro surely added to the great pride and lore of boxing in Youngstown and it’s surrounding area.

Jim Amato

   The city of Chicago has produced its share of outstanding professional fighters. One of them was a tough as nails lightweight who campaigned in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s. His name was Johnny Lira and he fought his way into the top echelon of the lightweight rankings.

   Lira turned pro in 1976 and quickly gained notice by winning his first twelve fights. In 1977 he drew with Manuel Lopez but defeated Lopez in a return bout. Johnny hit the big time in 1978 when he received a shot at the United States Boxing Association lightweight title. His opponent was the highly ranked southpaw bomber Andy Ganigan. Johnny was a decided underdog going in but he shocked the boxing establishment by stopping Ganigan in round six. Lira then went to New York’s Madison Square Garden to outscore the talented Larry Stanton. Lira was now high in the ratings and in 1979 he received a shot at the World Boxing Association’s version of the lightweight title. Their champion was a hard-hitting bomber from Venezuela named Ernesto Espana. It was a grueling fight but Espana emerged victorious stopping Johnny in nine rounds. Lira would suffer a broken jaw for his gallant effort.

   In 1980 Johnny traveled to Spain and dropped an eight round decision to Andoni Amana. He would later lose a ten round duke to the flashy Howard Davis Jr. In 1981 Lira would post a ten round win over Ohio’s rugged Bobby Plegge. Johnny was then outdueled over ten rounds by Nicky Furlano and the was stopped in nine rounds by Willie Rodriguez for the USBA super lightweight title. Lira regrouped in 1982 scoring a points verdict over Canadian Al Ford. Johnny then lost a tough call to former world champion Alfredo Escalera. Lira would come back to win four fights but in 1984 he lost a ten rounder to Russell Mitchell. That was his last fight.

   Lira hung them up with a fine record of 29-7-1. He scored fifteen knockouts. Johnny himself was stopped on two occasions. Lira passed away on December 8, 2012 at the age of 61.
                                                                                                                                                                        Jim Amato



For a decade ( 1952-1962 ), Joey Giambra was a mainstay among the middleweight elite, yet he never received a shot at the middleweight title. In fact, he received his only title shot at the tail end of his career battling for the newly created junior middleweight division. However, he was not successful. Nevertheless, in his prime, he was as good as any middleweight contender in the world.

Joey turned pro in 1949 and went undefeated in his first seventeen fights. His first loss was to tough veteran Johnny Ceserio in 1951. He then reeled off ten straight victories before losing a 1952 decision to the great Joey Giardello. Giambra would come right back to beat Giardello in a rematch.

Giambra then won nine straight before losing to the clever Bobby Dykes. Joey had five more wins before dropping a verdict to Carl "Bobo" Olson. Giambra then went unbeaten in his next ten bouts, including two wins over the rugged Rocky Castellani and a victory over Philadelphia's tough Gil Turner. Joey then lost a points call against rough Rory Calhoun.

Giambra would not be denied and he would rally to win seventeen straight including revenge victories over Calhoun and Giardello in their rubber match. Throw in a win over Ralph "Tiger" Jones. In 1961, he was outpointed by Yama Bahama. In 1962, he dropped one to Farid Salim. Joey would bounce back again to score a kayo over the dangerous Florentino Fernandez. That led to a bout with Denny Moyer for the newly introduced junior middleweight division title. The cagey Moyer won the judge's votes and the title.

In 1963, Joey reached the end of the line losing decisions to Luis Rodriguez and Joe DiNucci. In all, he had 77 fights, walking away a winner 65 times. He scored 31 knockouts, simply remarkable considering the competition he faced. More than that, Giambra was never stopped. He was truly an "uncrowned champion."

Jim Amato



The great city of Youngstown,Ohio has produced an array of fine fighters. Numerous champions and contenders have come out of Youngstown and its surrounding areas. From highly regarded welterweight contender Tommy Bell to the recent former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. The history of boxing in Youngstown is priceless. Among the boxers who have added to Youngstown's rich legacy is a lightweight who reached the top of his profession. His name is Harry Arroyo.

Harry was born on October 25,1957. He had a long and successful amateur career posting a record of 110-15. Arroyo made his professional boxing debut on October 30,1980 by halting Dale Gordon in Niles,Ohio. It was to be the first of twenty three straight wins that would lead Harry to a world title shot. Harry's first major win came in Atlantic City,N.J.on October 30,1982 when he won an ten round split decision over future junior welterweight titleholder Joe Manley. In 1983 Harry won all five of his fights and was moving up in the ratings.

There was another talented lightweight out of Youngstown who was also active at this time. Ray Mancini the son of ex lightweight contender Lenny "Boom Boom" Mancini was putting together his own win streak. Ray and Harry had been amateur stablemates under trainer Ed Sullivan. The two had sparred several rounds together. Mancini made his professional debut on October 18,1979. By the time Harry entered the pro ranks Ray had run up an impressive 13-0 record. Ray was putting together a great local following. The national media began to pick up on the Mancini story. A son trying to win the title his father never had a chance to fight for. The press and the fans were eating it up. In 1981 Ray made great progress halting Norman Goins in two. He outpointed veteran Al Ford and the took out tough Jorge Morales in nine. The win over Morales gave Ray the North American Boxing Federation lightweight title. That is back when the N.A.BF. belt had some clout.

By the end of 1981 Harry had only seven wins on his ledger. On July 19,1981 Mancini scored a solid twelve round decision win over highly rated Mexican Jose Luis Ramirez. The scores were 120-108,119-110 and 119-112. A clear cut victory over a fighter who had given world champion Alexis Arguello a real battle. Arguello and Mancini would now meet for the World Boxing Council lightweight title. After a spirited effort Mancini was stopped by Arguello. Ray would rebound in 1982 and on May 8th he would take out Arturo Frias in one action packed round to win the World Boxing Association version of the lightweight title. On July 24th Mancini would make his first defense against former champion Ernesto Espana. The fight would be held in Warren,Ohio near Youngstown. On the undercard would be Harry Arroyo. Harry would stop unbeaten Kevin Austin in five rounds to raise his record to 15-0. Mancini would beat up Espana in six rounds to retain his title. At this point in time the worlds of Harry Arroyo and Ray Mancini were very far apart.

While his 1982 win over Manley raised some eyebrows.Harry was still boxing in the shadow of Ray. Mancini ended 1982 with the tragic Deuk-Koo Kim win. No one but Ray will ever know how much Kim's death effected him. Mancini would box on and in 1983 he made a title defense against Orlando Romero and scored two non title victories. The year 1984 would see Harry Arroyo made great strides up the fistic ladder. On January 14th in Atlantic City, Harry upset the favored Robin Blake in a thrilling contest. On that same day in Reno,Nevada Mancini beat the gutsy Bobby Chacon in three rounds to retain his title. Three months later Harry got the break of a lifetime. Filling in for Cornelius Boza Edwards,Arroyo met Philadelphia's Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown for the International Boxing Federation lightweight title. The bout took place on April 15th. Although the I.B.F. was a fledging organization they were gaining momentum. Harry beat down Brown in an exciting fight to win the championship.

Now there was talk of an all Youngstown shootout with Mancini. A unification bout that would have drawn a lot of attention. Boxer versus slugger to see who was the best lightweight in Youngstown. Ray would go on to a June date with Livingstone Bramble. It was to be his Waterloo. Bramble fought a supurb fight. He busted up Mancini and took his title in round fourteen. It's possible that Ray could have challenged Arroyo for the I.B.F belt but he wanted his title back. That meant a rematch with Bramble. On September 1st Arroyo beat undefeated Charlie "White Lightning" Brown to retain his crown. On January 12,1985 Harry met the very formidable Terrence Alli. It was a classic. Arroyo got off the floor in the second round to rally and halt the game Alli in the eleventh.

Harry's popularity was soaring. He was on the cover of boxing magazines and he had become a television favorite. Mancini got his rematch with Bramble on February 16th and lost a close hard fought battle. On April 6th Arroyo met the clever Jimmy Paul. He was a product of the Kronk Gym and aptly nicknamed "The Ringmaster". Harry would soon find out why. Arroyo could never figure out Jimmy's counter punching style. Harry hit the floor a few times but hung in there only to lose a lopsided verdict and his title.

Ray Mancini would not enter the ring again for four years. Arroyo embarked on a mission to regain his championship. Six months after his loss to Paul he took on Sammy Fuentes. A veteran of only eleven fights Fuentes gave Harry a beating and stopped him in the seventh. It was quite an upset and it was back to the drawing board for Harry. A three fight win streak followed the loss to Fuentes. On May 18,1986 Harry went to Providence,Rhode Island to face the the streaking Vinny Pazienza. Paz entered the ring with an 18-1 record and proved to be too fast for Harry winning a comfortable decision. That loss pretty much took Arroyo out of the title picture.

There was another three fight win streak and then a 1987 loss to journeyman Roger Brown. On February 23,1988 Harry stopped Rick Souce to win the World Boxing Coucil Continental light welterweight title. In his next contest Arroyo was blitzed by future world champion Loreto Garza in one round to lose that title. In 1989 Harry lost another decision to Roger Brown. In 1990 he dropped a ten round duke to Carl Griffith. In 1991 Harry lost a bout in Paris,France to unbeaten Valery Kayumba. Next he lost a twelve rounder to Tommy Small for the World Boxing Federation light middleweight title. In 1992 Harry was taken out in three by another future world champion Javier Castillejo. In his last bout in 1993 Arroyo was on the short end of a decision to undefeated Vinny Letizia.

In all Harry Arroyo had 51 fights. His final tally was 40-11. He won 30 fights by the knockout route. He met six world champions in Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown,Jimmy Paul,Joe Manley,Vinny Pazienza,Loreto Garza and Javier Castillejo. He was world champion for a year and defended his title successfully twice. Although he badly wanted to fight Mancini it just wasn't meant to be. Ray did not return to boxing until March of 1989 for a lucrative bout against Hector "Macho" Camacho. A close fight that Ray lost. By then Harry's star had greatly diminished. When Mancini fought Greg Haugen in April of 1992 Harry was nearing the end of his career. Mancini was badly beaten by Haugen and hung the gloves up for good.

Harry Arroyo remains in the Youngstown area where he is popular with the local fans. He has been a boxing judge and referee. I have met Harry a few times and I found him to be a humble soft spoken man. He is proud of his career as well he should be. He is as friendly as can be to fight fans who seek his autograph. Signing one after another with a wide smile on his face. Pride in his accomplishments and the city of Youngstown takes pride in him.

Jim Amato




Although he won only one more fight then he lost in his career Tom “The Bomb” Bethea was once ranked among the world’s leading middleweights and light heavyweights. Bethea turned pro in 1967 and won nine of his first eleven bouts. He then suffered a KO loss to Leon Washington. Tom Bethea was always matched tough throughout his career. He next lost decisions to future middleweight king Carlos Monzon and former welterweight champ Luis Rodriguez.

On March 13, 1970 Bethea was paired up with reigning middleweight titleholder Nino Benvenuti in a non-title fight. The battle took place in Australia. Whether Nino was in top shape is debatable. The fact is that Bethea dished out quite a body beating to Benvenuti forcing Nino to quit. It was a stunning upset and a rematch with the title on the line was immediate. This time Nino boxed smartly and was well ahead when he halted Bethea in the eighth round.

From this point on Bethea lost as many as he would win but he faced nothing but first-rate opposition. He lost to Bennie Briscoe, Jean Claude Bouttier, Billy Douglas and Ralph Palladin. Bethea then moved up to light heavyweight. He suffered defeats at the hands of Bobby Cassidy and Eddie “Bossman” Jones but he did beat the highly regarded Lonnie Bennett.

In a ten fight streak between 1974 – 1976 Tom went 8-0-2. He bested Domenico Adinolfi, Tom Bogs and Douglas in a return. Bethea was now ranked among the world's best at 175 pounds. Then came a close decision loss to Mike Quarry. Losses to Marvin Johnson, Michael Spinks and Marvin Camel would follow before Tom retired.

Although his 46 bout record stands at 22-21-3, this is clearly not reflective of the quality opponents he faced. Bethea met six world champions and eight others who attempted to win a title in his very respectable career.

Jim Amato

 Poster courtesy Peltzboxing




I enjoy watching all different types of fighters. I appreciate the art and finesse of a clever boxer like Willie Pep. I enjoy the rock-em- sock-em style of a Joe Frazier. There were men with great jabs like Larry Holmes. I was dazzled by the hand speed of Sugar Ray Leonard and more recently by Roy Jones Jr. I was in awe of the power of a Earnie Shavers or Julian Jackson. I was in even more awe of men with the granite jaws who could absorb the power shots like George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb did.

These were just a handful of fighters I have the ultimate respect for. Overall I think my favorite trait in a boxer is a bulldog tenacity. They may not be the best boxer or the hardest puncher and at times their chin may betray them. Still as long as they are standing their opponents better be prepared to fight. I guess gritty is best adjective I can use to describe this type of fighter. Doug DeWitt fit the bill.

Doug was born on August 13, 1961 in Youngstown, Ohio. He boxed out of Yonkers, New York and turned professional in 1980. He won his first eight fights before dropping a decision to tough Ben Serrano. He bounced right back with three wins including a kayo over Danny McAloon. Later he would draw with Tony Suero and Serrano in a rematch.

Doug was also beating good fighters like Teddy Mann, Mike Tinley and Bobby Hoye. A 1984 first round knockout over Jimmy Sykes led to a match with ” Dangerous ” Don Lee. The ” Dangerous ” one had recently stopped the highly regarded contender Tony Sibson. Doug and Don battled to a draw. Next Doug would lose a verdict to Robbie Sims the vastly under rated half brother of Marvin Hagler.

In 1986 Doug would show his grit as he lost decisions to two of the best punchers in the game at the time, Milt McCrory and Thomas ” Hitman ” Hearns. Just when you thought Doug’s chin was made of steel he suffered a 1987 KO loss to Jose Quinones. Later that year Doug would bounce back to win the USBA middleweight title by edging the crafty Tony Thornton.

A 1988 draw with Ronnie Essett led to Doug’s first shot at a world title. On November 8th he met WBA middleweight titleholder Sumbu Kalambay in Monte Carlo. Kalambay is largely forgotten these days but he was a very talented champion who holds wins over Herol Graham, Mike McCallum, Iran Barkley and Robbie Sims. In possibly his best career performance Kalambay clocked Doug in the seventh round.

Tenacity…In his very next fight Doug was rematched with Robbie Sims for the WBO version of the middleweight title. At that time the WBO was a fledging organization and did not carry the clout it has today. Be that as it may DeWitt pounded out a well deserved twelve round decision and was crowned the champion. He would successfully defend against former IBF junior middleweight champ Matthew Hilton. Matthew was a brutal puncher but Doug absorbed Hilton’s bombs and rallied to stop Matthew in the eleventh.

In 1990 Doug defended against Britain’s Nigel Benn. It was a savage affair that ended in the eighth round after Doug took quite a beating. No longer a champion Doug returned in 1992 and drew with Tyrone Frazier. He then got a points call over Dan Sherry. In his last fight Doug was outclassed by James Toney in six rounds ending his distinguished career.

DeWitt closed out with 46 bouts. He won 33 lost 8 and drew five times. He scored 19 knockouts and he was taken out four times. He met six other men who claimed a world title. He was smart in the ring and put his punches together well. His best asset was his fighting spirit. It made him a champion.

Jim Amato


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Last updated: 06/16/18.